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Leftists Against Clinton

Mon 31 Oct 2016 In: Comment View at Wayback View at NDHA

There are two sets of contrarians in the current US federal election. One consists of a growing throng of anti-Trump Republicans. However, some on the political left actively dislike Hillary Clinton and may even vote against her. Why? Much of the opprobrium against Clinton centres on her husband's presidency in the nineties. During that period, both Bill and Hillary Clinton were 'neoliberals' who believed in associating politically progressive goals with abandoning the centre-left's traditional concern with government-directed redistribution of wealth through the welfare state, meager as it was in the United States compared to other western liberal democracies in Europe, Canada and Australasia. Both Clintons are judged to have acquiesced in the destruction of government social security programmes in bipartisan coalition with the Newt Gingrich-dominated Republican US Congress of the mid-nineties. While the Obama administration turned its back on that era and became more social democratic and akin to the mainstream European and Australasian centre-left as a result, Hillary Clinton is still accused of holding such anachronistic views and it is argued that she will implement them if allowed to do so through a presidential victory. More recently, Clinton has been pilloried for being a 'warmonger' who supported the Iraqi War quagmire under Republican President George W.Bush, even if the Obama administration has withdrawn most US troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. There is a certain facile far left tendency which likes to label all US military intervention as "US imperialism,' even when the context says otherwise. Not all such military intervention is- the Bosnian War of the mid-nineties was mostly a "just war" that was necessary to constrain the aggressive religious persecution and ethnic cleansing carried out by Serbia amidst the ruins of the former Yugoslavia. The Afghan War was hampered by its theatre of war, a failed state, but the United States and its allies repelled the Taliban and the latter is too fragmented to reassert its former authority. In the current Syrian civil war, the Obama administration refuses to support the Assad dictatorship, which is a commendable stance to take, and backs anti-regime opposition movements that oppose ISIS and al Qaeda. The Iraqi War is the only such Middle Eastern conflict which does fit the classic portrait of "US imperialism," given that it was waged because the United States decided that Saddam Hussein was suddenly too vile to be propped up, and thus it deposed him. However, as Saddam was a dictator and Baathist Iraq was a highly authoritarian and regimented society, there was a civil society vacuum after its fall, filled by Sunni and Shia religious social conservatives alike. Both Islamist factions harrass, torture, assault and kill LGBT Iraqis and Syrians. However, it can be maintained that the Iraqi War was the fault of the prior George W.Bush administration, as Obama's immediate predecessor, and that Hillary Clinton had no direct responsibility for its coalescence or the conduct of war, given that she was an Opposition politician until the Obama administration appointed her as Secretary of State for Defence in 2008. It is true that she does bear responsibility for ill-advised US 'remedial' action that overthrow the Gaddhafi regime in Libya, only to be confronted by similar fragmentation given its lack of stable, autonomous civil society. However, Republican presidential contender Donald Trump also backed the Iraqi War before it became obvious that it had degenerated into a geopolitical quagmire, so the umbrage of the anti-Clinton far left on this issue is selective, to say the least. More recently, Clinton has been argued to have sabotaged Bernie Sanders rival Democrat presidential nomination bid. While that may have been the case admittedly within the Democrat National Committee, as I have argued before, Bernie Sanders has the great satisfaction to witness many of his campaign policies integrated into the Democrat Party platform for 2016. Furthermore, most Sanders supporters have swung in behind the Clinton campaign, arguably on that basis, particularly as the rhetoric and ambience of the Trump Republican campaign has darkened in tone after he secured that party's presidential nomination. However, it also has to be said that some of the anti-Clintonistas are political sectarians who have little clue about electoral politics and realism, given that they spend much of their time in self-styled 'marxist-leninist' communist sects. These individuals denigrate realpolitik and the neccessity of achievable, incremental political reform and activities. Before the seventies, many of them were also antigay, arguing that male homosexuality was 'bourgeois decadence' "forced" onto the working class and which would 'cease to exist' in 'revolutionary' communist societies. Fortunately, the rise of lesbian feminism and gay liberation made them realise that LGBT individuals have to endure and resist anti-LGBT social structures, legislation and professional practices within colonialist, capitalist and patriarchal societies. Some African-American and Latina feminists dislike Hillary Clinton because of the suffering caused within their constituencies by nineties anti-welfare legislation, but against this, one has to compare the effective Obamacare/Affordable Care Act campaign waged by Barack Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton during the term of the current presidency. Public healthcare access is just as much of a social democratic objective as the preservation of a comprehensive welfare state. Moreover, Donald Trump is the current Republican presidential candidate and some of his rhetoric borders on neofascism. Encouraging other progressives to refuse to enter a pragmatic state of coalition against the real enemy risks letting in the wolf prowling outside the door. One final comment has to be the unenviable plight of Jill Stein, the US Green Party leader. Until the strategic blunder of her predecessor Ralph Nader, it looked as if the US Green Party was climbing in support and might eventually make a state or federal legislature breakthrough. But the foolhardy Nader ran as US Green presidential candidate in 2000, splitting the progressive vote and Al Gore's voter share otherwise, and letting in the incompetent and mediocre Bush presidency of the next eight years. Understandably, many US progressives want no similar repetition of events sixteen years ago and the Greens voter share is going to be punitively low as they avoid making the same mistake twice. Doggedly, and dogmatically, Stein advances what she sees as a 'feminist case' against Clinton. However, given the gender gap in Clinton's favour amongst US female voters, that seems to be a forelorn hope. Clinton may not be perfect, but she's the best candidate compared to the alternative, and in the context of the US federal election race, that has to be enough. Recommended: Jake Johnson: "Leftists Against Clintonism: It's Not Just About the Lies, It's About the Record"Common Dreams:11.08.2016:http://www. 08/11/leftists-against- clintonism-its-not-just-about- lies-its-about- record Andrew Levine: "Smash Clintonism: Why Democrats, Not Republicans, Are the Problem"CounterPunch:05.02.2016:http://www. smash-clintonism-why- democrats-not-republicans-are- the- problem/ Ryan Lizza: "The Great Divide: Sanders, Clinton and the Future of the Democratic Party"New Yorker:21.03.2016:http://www. 03/21/bernie-hillary-and-the- new-democratic-party Peter Boyer: "Barack Obama and the Death of Clintonism"Newsweek: 09.03.2012:http://www. death-clintonism- 64739 Tessa Stuart: "Green Party's Jill Stein on the Feminist Case Against Hillary Clinton" Rolling Stone: 26.05.2016:http://www. news/green-partys-jill-stein- on-the-feminist-case-against- hillary-clinton-20160526 Liza Featherstone (ed)False Choices: The Faux Feminism of Hillary Clinton: London: Verso: 2016. Amanda Erickson: "The Flawed Feminist Case Against Hillary Clinton" Washington Post: 28.07.2016:https://www. party/wp/2016/07/28/the- flawed-feminist-case-against- hillary-clinton/?utm_term=. 84adc3cf5875 - 31st October 2016    


First published: Monday, 31st October 2016 - 11:49am

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